Friday, December 21, 2012

Sound Advice: A Rock and Roll Christmas with Moving Finger and the Sheiks

Posted By on Fri, Dec 21, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Moving Finger
  • Moving Finger
The normally upscale Beauty Shop in Cooper Young gets a rock-and-roll makeover Saturday night as the Sheiks and Moving Finger perform at the restaurant’s unofficial Christmas party. Both bands have performed at the Beauty Shop before, but Saturday night marks the first time the local rock-and-roll acts perform together.

Formally known as Mojo Possum, the Sheiks formed a little over a year ago, with their debut record Witches and Mystics self-released this past October. Witches and Mystics sounds a lot like Out of our Heads-era Rolling Stones, with lead singer Frank McLallen sounding a lot like Mick Jagger while he howls over impressive guitar solos drenched with reverb and distortion.

With most of their live shows happening at the “Burgundy Ballroom,” a house venue that also serves as a recording space for the Sheiks and other Midtown groups, Friday is a good opportunity to see the band in a different setting, even if it’s not a traditional music venue.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Switchblade Kid Record Release Party

Posted By on Thu, Dec 20, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Harry Konidtsoitis has been a fixture on the Midtown rock scene for years, with a reputation as a great front man for bands like The Angel Sluts. But on his new album, he assumes the name The Switchblade Kid, shrugs off his communal impulses, and strikes out on his own.

“The record is essentially a solo project of mine,” he says. “I started working on it about a year ago.”
Rather than assembling a new band, rehearsing, and locking themselves in Konidtsoitis’ own 5 And Dime Studio, he used a scattershot approach. “I just kind of pulled in various friends of mine…to play on different songs.”

The resulting album sounds a lot more varied than Konidtsoitis’ output with his other bands, Angel Sluts, Twin Pilot, and Turn It Offs, members of which appear on The Switchblade Kid. “No two songs sound the same, and that’s pretty neat,” he says. “Some of the songs are really spaced out—noisy and dreamy. But the thing that ties them all together is this Phil Spector production thing going on.” The songs’ instrumentation is much more varied than the usual dual guitar-bass-drum punk combo. “Live, the band has ranged from five to eight people.”

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Argo Leads Southeastern Film Critics Association's Annual Awards

Posted By on Mon, Dec 17, 2012 at 12:01 PM

The Southeastern Film Critics Association, which comprises 47 members in nine Southern states, including, locally, myself and the Commercial Appeal's John Beifuss, has announced its winners for 2012.

Argo leads the way, topping the overall Top Ten and winning Best Director and Best Adapted Screenplay. Second place Zero Dark Thirty, scheduled to open in Memphis on January 11th, finished second in the Best Picture race and was runner-up in three other categories — Director (Kathryn Bigelow), Actress (Jessica Chastain), and Original Screenplay.

Ben Afflecks Argo tops the Southeastern Film Critics awards for 2012.
  • Ben Affleck's Argo tops the Southeastern Film Critics awards for 2012.

Third place finisher Lincoln also took top honors for Actor (Daniel Day-Lewis) and Best Ensemble, while finishing second in Supporting Actor (Tommy Lee Jones) and Supporting Actress (Sally Field), as well as Adapted Screenplay.

The Louisiana-set indie Beasts of the Southern Wild, which finished sixth overall, won the organization's annual Wyatt Award for best Southern-themed film.

I'm going to hold off on revealing my SEFCA ballot until after my own year-end picks are revealed at the end of the month, but for now I will say that I voted for exactly half of the SEFCA Top Ten.

Full results:


1.    Argo 
2.    Zero Dark Thirty 
3.    Lincoln 
4.    Moonrise Kingdom 
5.    Silver Linings Playbook 
6.    Beasts of the Southern Wild 
7.    The Master 
8.    Les Misérables 
9.    Life of Pi 
10.    The Dark Knight Rises

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Thursday, December 13, 2012

Blues Music Award Nominations Announced

Posted By on Thu, Dec 13, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Janiva Magness
  • Janiva Magness
Los Angeles singer Janiva Magness and San Francisco harmonica master John Nemeth lead the way with five nominations each for next spring's Blues Music Awards.

The Memphis-based Blues Foundation announced the nominations yesterday and tickets for the event — which will be held on May 9th at the Cook Convention Center — go on sale today.

Both Magness and Nemeth are up for the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award, along with Joe Louis Walker, Curtis Salgado, and Rick Estrin.

For more information on the event, see

The full list of nominees:

Acoustic Album
Billy Boy Arnold Sings Big Bill Broonzy - Billy Boy Arnold
Blues on Solid Ground - John Primer
Deeper in the Well - Eric Bibb
Not Alone - Ann Rabson w/ Bob Margolin
Talking Guitar - Paul Rishell

Acoustic Artist
Carolina Chocolate Drops
Doug MacLeod
Eric Bibb
Harrison Kennedy
Paul Rishell

And Still I Rise - Heritage Blues Orchestra
Double Dynamite - The Mannish Boys
Show of Strength - Michael Burks
Son of the Seventh Son - Mud Morganfield
Stronger For It - Janiva Magness

B.B. King Entertainer
Curtis Salgado
Janiva Magness
Joe Louis Walker
John Nemeth
Rick Estrin

Lil' Ed & the Blues Imperials
Phantom Blues Band
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats
Tedeschi Trucks Band
The Mannish Boys

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Hi-Tone Café to Close

Posted By on Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 1:45 PM

Owner Jonathan Kiersky confirms that his Midtown music venue, the Hi-Tone Café, will close its doors on February 28th after a 15-year run as the city's most prolific mid-sized concert venue.

While Kiersky is abandoning the Hi-Tone venue as a full-time enterprise, he's not abandoning the Memphis concert scene, saying that he will continue to book concerts in Memphis under the Hi-Tone Productions name as well as part of his recently created booking agency, Ping Pong. (Among Ping Pong's clients are locals acts Toxie, Jack Oblivian, John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives, and the Memphis Dawls.)

“We're transferring shows to different venues,” says Kiersky, who promises specific information on additional bookings in the coming days.

The Hi-Tone Café is set to close at the end of February.
  • The Hi-Tone Café is set to close at the end of February.

The decision to close the club, according to Kiersky, came from a variety of factors: A lease set to expire at the end of this year, a desire to book shows at different venues, and the conclusion that operating a concert venue of the Hi-Tone's size in the volatile Memphis concert market was too difficult.

“I think maybe the location had run it's course,” Kiersky says, citing parking and heating issues with the space in addition to the standard concert-scene economics. “I also got sick of doing shows I wasn't interested in.”

“I think it's extremely difficult to make it viable,” Kiersky says of running a full-time club of the Hi-Tone's ilk in Memphis. “And I think that's been proven with every club of that size in the past. The Antenna. Last Place on Earth. Six One Six. Barrister's. Even Young Avenue Deli, which doesn't book much music any more.”

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Win Tickets to Bill Maher at the Orpheum

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 2:11 PM

Bill Maher is coming to the Orpheum on January 26th, and we've got tickets.

Enter here for your chance to win a pair of tickets. One entry per person, please.

Winners will be drawn on January 18th and notified via email.

Good luck!


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Memphis Photojournalist Robert King Finds John McAfee

Posted By on Wed, Dec 5, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Photographer Robert King, from the film Shooting Robert King.
  • Photographer Robert King, from the film Shooting Robert King.
Memphis-born photojournalist Robert King is in the company of fugitive software magnate John McAfee. King is filming a larger piece on McAfee and filing for

Reached by Facebook on Tuesday, King declined to comment on how he caught up to the software entrepreneur whose flight from the law following the alleged murder of a neighbor is the subject of tabloid intrigue.

King and Vice editor in chief Rocco Castoro posted a short piece and photos from Guatemala, where they reported McAfee had contracted an attorney. The article says the two are at work on a documentary film about MacAfee and his time on the lam following the alleged murder of a neighbor with whom he had quarreled.

King has a long history of finding his subject. Earlier assignments have found him in the company of Julian Assange and Moqtada al Sadr.  He is the subject of a documentary film, Shooting Robert King, and an article in Rolling Stone about journalists working in the warzone of Iraq, where King was kidnapped and then released. He has photographed in Iraq and chronicled conflicts in Chechnya and the Chiapas region of Mexico.  King’s video work in Syria led to his recently being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on CNN.

King grew up in Memphis the son of John King, an early partner with John Fry in Ardent studios.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

In Studio: Kevin Cubbins

Posted By on Mon, Dec 3, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Kevin Cubbins [left] hanging with Stax legend Steve Cropper in New York City.
  • Kevin Cubbins [left] hanging with Stax legend Steve Cropper in New York City.
Kevin Cubbins’ name appears frequently in Flyer music articles. He’s not the face of any band, and he doesn’t have a new album coming out; but he works behind the scenes of Memphis music like few others.

His main job, for nine years, is recording engineer for Beale Street Caravan, Sid Selvidge’s NPR-syndicated blues radio show — now in its 16th season. BSC was just recognized by ASCAP with the Deems Taylor Award for broadcast excellence.

Cubbins logs hours editing and mixing the radio show, drawing on experience gained at Ardent Studios and Young Avenue Sound.

“When you’re recording B.B., Buddy Guy, guys like Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sumlin — coming from the music-nerd angle — it’s THOSE guys. Working the studios around Memphis, you find yourself in situations where you are recording Big Jack Johnson, Pinetop Perkins, and you ask yourself, how did I get here? You’re recording the source.”

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